Actually, it was just a sackful of grungy mushroom culls that inspired this soup -- those, and a ratty little sprig of marjoram. Add that toothsome chewy thing I love so much about barley, a splash of maple syrup and a handful of French lentils, and you have what the housemates lauded as "the best housemeal yet." M. Sergeivich ate with a handcarved wooden spoon I purchased with a loaf of my homemade bread in West Virginia. Does that count as a walnut shell? What if I had a loaf of my spelt baguette warming in the oven, and some creamy grassfed yogurt to plop on top of the soup? Some coconut bourbon truffles for dessert?
If you don't serve the soup with yogurt (which would be very unfortunate), the entire menu is, incidentally, vegan.
Dryad SoupBrown a chopped onion in the bottom of your soup pot. Add two quarts of water, a chopped carrot, a couple stalks of chopped celery, and a few chopped tomatoes; bring to a simmer. Stir in 1 cup French green lentils and 1 cup pearl barley. Simmer till barley and lentils are soft, about an hour. Make several tablespoons of whole-wheat roux* with coconut oil and add to the soup along with a couple tablespoons of sea salt, a few grinds of black pepper, a splash of maple syrup and honey or molasses if you are so inclined. Meatless soups require a lot of tasting and adjusting: they never have that rich mouthfeel or perfect caramelly quality, so mimic it with acids and sugars and rich roux. A couple tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, generous swizzles of honey, and you're good to go. So long as you serve it with yogurt.
Twenty minutes before serving, add 5 cloves crushed and minced garlic, 3 cups chopped assorted mushrooms (I used shiitake, cremini, and a lone fraying portobella), and half a dozen sprigs of spritely fresh herbs: thyme and marjoram, for example.
Serve with rich yogurt.
*You know, heat several tablespoons fat in the skillet, add an equal quantity of flour, stir about while it bubbles and gilds a bit, and then drop it in the broth.